By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Starting a new life in a foreign land can be both frightening and exciting. It is more frightening for those who have had to do it alone. Whether done legally or illegally, immigrants attempt this in our country all the time and have done so for centuries. People have viewed the United States as the land of opportunity and they come here seeking a better life than what is available in their home. The film Brooklyn tells a fictional story of a lonely Irish immigrant trying to make a life for herself in the U.S., but this tale could be the real story of anyone who has immigrated here. Based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, the film version is a moving and romantic piece that should resonate with anyone who hails from another land.
Saoirse Ronan stars as Ellis Lacey, an Irish young lady who moves to the U.S. seeking a new life. Ellis leaves behind her mother (Jane Brennan) and her close older sister Rose (Fiona Glasscott). When Ellis arrives in America, she gets settled into a boarding house and gets a job working for a department store. Though she has a steady job and a comfortable place to live, Ellis misses her sister dearly and has trouble adjusting to her new surroundings. The loneliness doesn’t last too long after she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a kind-hearted Italian-American young man who falls instantly for Ellis. As the two fall in love, Ellis is called home to deal with an unexpected family situation. Torn between her love for her family and her romantic love in America, Ellis must decide what is best for her future.
With an adapted screenplay by Nick Hornby (Wild, About A Boy) and directed by John Crowley (About A Boy, Boy A), Brooklyn is a lovely film with a compelling main character who faces some enthralling situations. The pace is a little slow at times, but the character development of Ellis is exceptionally done. The romance between Tony and Ellis play out very sweetly and naturally, never feeling contrived or forced. Crowley and his production crew do outstanding work in recreating the innocence of the 1950s.
Saoirse Ronan radiantly shines in her role as Ellis. With nearly every movie role she takes she has proven herself as talented and mature actress. She and her co-star Emory Cohen share a lovely chemistry on-screen that should warm the most romantic places of even the hardest of hearts. The film also features great performances by Jim Broadbent (Father Kelly), Fiona Glascott (Rose), Domhnall Gleeson (Jim), and Julie Walters (Madge Kehoe). I could continue listing the entire cast of the film, but my point is that everyone in the film delivers solid work.
The PG-13 rated Brooklyn would make a pleasing trip to the cinema for families during the Thanksgiving holiday and would also make for a delightful and romantic date night. I can easily see this first rate film receiving attention at all the film awards, but for me the most deserving would be Saoirse Ronan who gives the film a lovely face and gentle heart with which most people should connect.